Simon Phillips’ tips for winterising your yacht

After the year of sailing and cruising, careful consideration should be put into place with regard to the necessary preparation and care for your yacht and systems before the winter sets in. We will segregate this into different areas onboard for ease.

Believe it or not, one of the main factors of wear and tear on a yacht is underuse. 

The areas we will cover here are,

Engine, Interior of the boat, Hull and deck, sails, rigging.

Engine (this would apply to the generator also if fitted)

Prior to the winter arriving it would be prudent to go through the engine and winterise it, to help prevent unnecessary wear and degradation. 

A full service to include; 

Oil and filter change

Coolant flush and replace

Gearbox oil change

Impellor removal

Changing oil and filter before the winter is prudent so that any water / contaminants in the oil do not sit and corrode the inside of your engine during the winter.

Coolant flush and change, flushing the system will remove any sludge build up / debris from the inside of the fresh water system. Replacing with the correct concentration of coolant is very important, especially if the temperatures are likely to drop below freezing. As water freezes, it expands – potentially causing the pipes to split. If this occurs numerous times during the winter, then there may be several places you could find split pipes.

Fuel tanks, this is a good opportunity to have them cleaned if they are almost empty or less than half full – being an optimist of course! We can arrange this for you. 

Gearbox oil – for the same reason as the engine oil.

Impeller removal – this should be done so the impeller is not deformed at the start of the season by sitting in the same position for months. A deformed impeller will not be as efficient as a correctly shaped one!

A general look around the engine and bay, will give a good sign (providing it is clean) if there is anything amiss – such as leaks. These should be addressed now, before they get any worse. 


The interior of the boat should be cleaned thoroughly to try and stop any mould from forming. Check through any perishables – food / drink. Remove any cans which are starting to rust or will expire during the winter months. 

Curtains and soft furnishings could be taken away and cleaned if needed. Items such as pillows / duvets should be taken away and mattresses lifted up to enable air circulation. 

A good general clean throughout. 

The heads should have an environmentally friendly antifreeze solution poured down, again to stop pipes freezing. 

Water tanks, this again can have an antifreeze added to it. I have seen this in The Netherlands and the Baltic especially, there is even a drinkable antifreeze!

Hull and Deck

A good clean all over, followed by the application of a good quality wax will keep the harsh elements off for the winter, making it easier to clean in the spring. Waxing the boat is also a good way to warm up on a cold day!

Finish any protective layers – varnish / sealants etc before the winter arrives to keep the water out.


It is better to remove these from the boat and have them inspected and stored, with any repairs made where necessary. Any other canvas work could be removed now, such as lazy bags, bimini for inspection and cleaning / proofing. 


Running rigging can be checked for signs of chafe / splaying ends / lumpy insides of the sheets / halyards, indicating there is something wrong with the core of the line. Any lines needing replacement can be moused out – thin string approx 3/4mm tied to the end of the line to be replaced, and then pulled through. Especially useful for halyards (no need to go up the mast), reefing lines, vang etc.

Areas in which we can help personally or arrange would be:

Engine servicing / winterisation

Fuel tank cleaning

Interior cleaning

Hull and Deck 



Any thoughts / comments / questions always welcome

Simon Phillips AFRIN